• http://ecommercecosmos.com/ Luiz Centenaro

    Interesting perspective Mark, regardless of why this was done it made a ton of marketers angry. I agree with you that Facebook is smarter than that and did everything based on science but the way they went about it was completely wrong. This opened up opportunities for companies like Eat24 who spent $1 million in 2013 to craft brilliant PR stunts that paid of more than their entire 2013 Facebook ad spend.

  • http://www.glendonmellow.com/ Glendon Mellow

    Mark, the vast majority of Pages I liked had well under 500,000 Likes, and many less than 1,000. For artists and illustrators like myself, it was a way to connect to other creators without looking into their personal lives.

    My own Page had only about 600 Likes (I’m a guy who paints wings on an aquatic fossil: it’s a niche). For self-published authors, webcomic artists, illustrators, indie game developers and indie bands and djs, Facebook Pages gave us a way to connect with fans. Katie McKissick wrote a nice piece on our blog, called Facebook Frustration about this loss.

    Now, we are being treated as though we have the budget of Samsung. I posted a good-bye message to my Facebook fans (which they will not likely see) with the URLs of my other sites. I also took the step of Unliking every Page on Facebook that I had amassed after 7 years.

    I *do* want to see everything: I always pick Most Recent, and if Pages I have Liked are not present, then my demographic data to FB is being given away for free: If I cannot see the updates in my feed, then as a user, the contract has been broken. My side of the bargain, updates I care about via a platform I use, is broken.

    Facebook is inches away from becoming MySpace.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    Hi, I’m the author of this article. I welcome your comments and will be glad to respond!

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    Thanks for the comment, Luiz. I want to make clear that I’m not a Facebook apologist, and I’m not here to defend everything they did or the way they did it; I was just trying to dispassionately assess the likely business reason they did what they did.

    That being said, I don’t think the Eat24 stunt worries Facebook much. It was a one-off that no one else will be able to reproduce in the same way. I don’t thing Facebook is seeing any mass exodus by large brands.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    Hi Glendon. As I said in another comment, I want to be clear that I didn’t write this as a Facebook apologist. Rather, I was just trying to set forth what I think is the real business reason behind what Facebook is doing.

    That having been said, I agree that a lot of smaller pages who weren’t trying to use their pages to market as much as to just keep in touch with fans have been hurt by this. Just as happens when Google makes algorithm changes, there is always collateral damage.

    The problem is that huge sites like Facebook and Google have to implement changes at scale. There isn’t any effective way they can go through page by page or site by site and decide “this one is worthy of being pushed more organically.” In order to solve their content glut problem they have to implement solutions that will affect everyone to varying extents, and that ultimately means some who weren’t doing any “harm” will get hit.

    Perhaps the lesson here is that we should never become too dependent on any platform that we don’t own. Use things like free social sites while you can, but it would be smart to be doing things to build other, more direct, connections to the audience you gain there.

    For example, I know several small companies that built incentives for their Facebook fans to come to their site and give their contact info in exchange for some giveaway or other benefit. They then worked to build those people into a proprietary community of their own outside of Facebook. Now that it’s harder to get in front of those people on FB, they are OK because they still have their audience.

  • http://www.windycityparrot.com WindyCityParrot

    I run one of the rare (20%) Facebook pages (204k likes) that still sees organic reach growth. This whole conversation sweeps a more important conversation under the rug and that’s “how to monetize our efforts”? Our page ranks #3 in the eCommerce category for engagement in april & may’s Socialbakers report but we sill see way more revenue from 4 time tested email sends per month. Much of what I’ve found on Facebook is counter intuitive. I’ve been an SEO (for my ecommece site for 12 years) One day some one is going to explain to me why on Gods green earth Facebook needs 100,000 signals to determine if a Facebook friend who’s post I liked last week, should see what I had for dinner. Caveat: lots of page saw their reach decline because their content sucks, but misery loves company and the pay to play scenario is a great hat hook.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    That’s a very insightful comment, WindyCity. To me, social seems best fitted to brand building and audience acquisition. But many want to force direct sales from it, and then are disappointed when it doesn’t work.

    For direct sales and lead building, as I commented earlier, you are smart to invest in things like email marketing.

  • http://www.aquahabitat.com/ Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts

    Gaining much attention on facebook has always been difficult for us, but it is easier to gain a fb “like” from those who first visit our website rather than from within fb. So I just go with that. On the other hand, it is much easier to gain likes/+1s on Google+ so we have switched our focus to G+ where the more active and seemingly sharper people spend time. My feeling is the quality of consumer is higher on G+, so I am not all that concerned about facebook.

    We usually take the long-term strategy here. When google search was new, we jumped on it because it seemed to give better results. We are going to stay with that bet and rise with G+.

    In the mean time we will still post to facebook, but it will just get copies of our popular posts from G+

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    Spring Creek, I would not bet against you on that ;-)

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    In the long run they’d make more money charging a reasonable monthly fee to Page owners, the vast majority of whom will never pay to advertise or promote posts but would probably be willing to pay $10 or $20 a month to be able to actually reach the fans they worked hard to acquire. Sure, it sounds good on paper to say that a lower organic reach encourages small business owners to pay money to reach their fans, but I doubt that’s going to be the case. Most are offended and think they’ve been baited and switched, some can’t afford it, and the rest will just run an occasional ad rather than promote posts on a regular basis.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    If you want to be sure to see all updates from your favorite Pages all you need to do is turn on “Get Notifications”. That’s also something you could have suggested to your fans so they didn’t miss any of your posts.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trappermark Mark Traphagen

    Thanks for your comment Hugh.

    Charging a fee to simply push all or most of a brand page’s posts to its fans runs counter-productive to what Facebook is trying to accomplish, and I believe ultimately it wouldn’t be good for the brands as well.

    One of the points of my article was that what brands and users think they want or is best for them is not borne out by the data that Facebook has. This is very common in human behavior studies: what people SAY they want and what they ACTUALLY choose or like in the real world are often quite at odds.

    Facebook knows that when they show too much untargeted brand content, users in general are less happy and spend less time on Facebook. That’s the fact, whether or not people SAY they want to see everything from pages they liked, or brands think that they do.

    The ease of a “Like” is part of the problem. People Like pages for all sorts of reasons. Maybe there was a contest they wanted to enter, or they saw a funny photo from the brand. A lot of those people Like a page without necessarily wanting to hear from the page all the time. You can’t assume that a Like means “please send me all your future content.”

    Returning to your “pay a fee to push everything” concept, Facebook will never do that because they know it will backfire for brands. Instead, what they offer is FAR better: pay to push selected content to a targeted audience who are far more likely to actually be interested in it.

    Also, I disagree with your assumption that “[m]ost are offended and think they’ve been baited and switched,” partly because that’s just an assumption on your part. Have you done a study on that? Do you have data to back up that “most” are offended? You’re probably making that assumption because you’ve been reading posts from a vocal minority.

    I’m betting that Facebook knows much better than you or I. Sure, some brands will give up. But they will be a barely a blip on FB’s radar. The brands with money to spend on targeted content and advertising know that it can work very well on FB when used correctly. They are not going anywhere anytime soon.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    It’s not an assumption on my part, I run a couple Pages and groups dedicated to social media and hear that very often. As of charging a fee, there would be no guarantee that all of our posts would be seen but they could definitely unsqeeze the firehose a fair amount.

  • http://www.socialidentities.com Hugh Briss

    People know what they’re getting into when they like a Page and liking it to enter a contest is certainly the wrong reason. They can always hide some or all of a Page’s posts if they decide they’re getting too noisy. And that’s one thing that Facebook gets wrong. They give us the tools to keep our News Feed filled with what we want and hide what we don’t and instead of explaining and encouraging users to make use of the tools, they chose to do the filtering for them. Re the paying concept, they could easily turn on notifications for the Pages as the default if they paid and leave it up to users to turn it off rather than making it opt-in.

  • DJ Dyer

    I’m not buying it, they are obviously doing this for the money. And the only reason our feeds are clogged is because they are filled with all the Pages our friends also liked. I followed pages I wanted to see in my feed, not everyone else’s. But as a Page owner, which btw, my page is not a brand – and when did facebook decide that all pages were suddenly brands with deep pockets? When I registered my Page, I registered it as a community, back when facebook was free “and always well be” and Pages could be other than just brands. My page is a charity, a free lost and found site for lost teddy bears, with zero budget for advertising to boost posts. My page was also one of the first to get hit with the reach rollback a few months back and has been limping along ever since. And though we have nearly 9000 followers, only 2-5% of them ever see our posts. When it becomes 0%, we will be gone. It’s a simple case of bait and switch and with all the big brands and bands now on facebook, there’s a lots of cash to be made from their posts to their fans. Pity facebook isn’t at all interested in charity Pages who have worked hard to garner the followers they have.